It is disappointing but not surprising that school board member Gregg Schiavoni felt the only option left to him was to resign from the Sag Harbor School Board.
When the board is dysfunctional and not fulfilling its responsibilities to the community it represents, problems only multiply which corrode performance and negatively impact school culture.
There are ethical and appropriate behaviors which are expected, but need to be reinforced with ongoing board development.
Providing training for school board members is imperative and should be mandated for new members.
As a 23 year veteran school board member, first appointed and then elected to the Sag Harbor Board of Ed. followed by my election to the Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services (ESBOCES),
I have witnessed the lack of trust and consensus on the Sag Harbor BOE.
In my early years on our local board, most members attended conferences, both locally and nationally.
We were trained in parliamentary procedure, superintendent/board relations, and numerous other basics of the key work of school boards.
There are local, state and national associations to which boards belong which provide support and ongoing training to enhance performance.
Unfortunately, it is my understanding that Sag Harbor withdrew from the Nassau-Suffolk School Boards Association a few years ago after I had left the board.
My decision not to run for a seventh term was based on many of the reasons Gregg expresses in your article.
While observing the legal parameters for executive session is essential, so are the style and tone presented by the board to the public.
There are huge challenges facing public education and those of us who are constantly striving to support and defend this fundamental aspect of a democracy.
The board on which I currently serve has 15 members; there is no dissension or disrespect among us. We are experienced and professional in our demeanor.
We are there to serve in the best interests of our students and our communities, not to put forward personal agendas. We are there to make a difference.
Thank you for your attention.
Believe What He Says
It is with great concern that I learned of the resignation of Gregg Schiavoni from the board of education last week. Universally Gregg is known around town as an honest and forthright person. A man of patience, friendly, reasonable and good-natured in every way. He’s a smart guy, too, quick to understand processes and procedures and he’s a fair minded person. He listens to what you have to say and he doesn’t make snap judgments. He’s just the type of person you would want on the school board. He knows our town, he knows our values, he knows right from wrong with a kind of basic common sense that makes for good governance.
And the Sag Harbor community is well aware of his credibility and the man he is. He was twice elected to the board, and both times he was the top vote getter by a large margin. In fact, in his first election to the board he received nearly 80 percent of the vote and more votes than anyone who has ever run for the board.
So when he says the board is broken and the ship cannot be righted, I for one, believe what he says. Why would I doubt a man with such integrity? Surely the 1,800 people who last voted for him must also value his opinion. So, it was doubly alarming when the official response from the board leadership was essentially, “Well, Gregg is entitled to his opinion.”
I think the BOE would do well to consider that Gregg’s opinion counts not just for one man, but also for the reasonable good sense of the people of Sag Harbor.
I voted for Gregg, I believe what he says, and I think it should be a wake up call to all those who care about our school district and the education of our children.
Connect the Dots
Another Sag Harbor Board of Education member, Mr. Gregg Schiavoni, resigned last week, the second in less than a year. The Sag Harbor Express (“School Board Blasted,” 7 March 2013 ) cites Mr. Schiavoni’s reasons for resigning: “personal agendas are bleeding into the board’s business, topics that should be discussed in public are discussed in closed executive sessions and too many discussions behind closed doors focus on blaming previous employees instead of moving forward.” In Mr. Schiavoni’s words, …” it is a ship that cannot be righted.”
In 2012, BOE trustee Walter Wilcoxen resigned, Superintendent Dr. John Gratto resigned and business manager Janet Verneuille resigned. For those who never attended BOE meetings, Dr. Gratto and Mrs. Verneuille made the district run more efficiently with an eye toward improving academics while cutting wasteful spending.
It doesn’t take a Sherlock Holmes to connect the dots. Something is wrong in the district if two central administrators and two BOE members suddenly resign. Parents of students in the district and taxpayers should start attending meetings and demand answers. What else is going on in these executive sessions?
The recent resignations of the Sag Harbor School District superintendent, district treasurer and two board of education members all in the past 10 months concerns me, as it should any parent of a student in the Sag Harbor School system.
Such upheaval at a time when both the elementary school and the middle/high school are undergoing significant changes in curriculum and without a permanent superintendent does not seem beneficial to our children. The opportunity to be involved at this critical time is there for everyone.
A large public presence at school board of education meetings is crucial to ensuring that transparency exists and that our children’s future is on the right track.
The next board of education meeting and budget workshop is on Thursday, March 21,, at 6:45 p.m. at Pierson Library.
For those interested to ask questions, have a voice, be informed, or learn more about your child’s education, attend the next board meeting next Thursday. Attend future meetings when you can. Encourage others. We all have our children’s interest at heart.
During the years, hurricanes and noreasters have caused water to rise up over the beach and flood the parking lot at Long Beach. Years ago, when too much sand and gravel would accumulate on the parking lot, a large street sweeper would drive back and forth repeatedly on the parking lot dumping its accumulated sand at the far end thereby making it comfortable to walk on. During the past few years, as the tides have risen and our storms have changed, the parking lot has flooded much more frequently — almost routinely. Anyone who has ever walked on Long Beach can see clearly how very high the water comes now.
Super Storm Sandy pushed more sand and stones on to the Long Beach(Foster Memorial) parking lot than ever before, obviously too much for a street sweeper of previous years to handle. Within weeks of the storm backhoes, scoops and bobcats were furiously working to move the sand off the “ocean beach” parking lots. So at the end of November 2012 I spoke to two men in a Southampton Town Recreation Dept. truck as they were sitting eating their lunch and enjoying the view at Long Beach. I asked these men if and when they thought someone could push the sand off the parking lot. I was told “Oh it will be done before the beach opens in the summer don’t worry.”
HUH! I know Southampton Town is well aware how much the beach is used year round as they send garbage trucks to pick up from the bins on Long Beach almost every week year round. Long Beach is beautiful all year round, and people want to walk the parking lot or ride their bikes or teach their children to ride their bikes there. Did I say all year? Really how simple would it be to just plow the sand back onto the beach! Not that hard! The “ocean beach” parking lots are all cleared off of 3-feet deep sand. Oh, and by the way, I never see people walking the ocean beach parking lots in any season.
Here comes the over-the-top ridiculousness: during the third week of February 2013, Southampton Town employees were seriously pounding posts and putting up portions of snow fence into the sand a little above the mean high tide line. I have never in the 27 years as a resident of Noyac ever seen any snow fence put up there by the town. The SHT employees informed me it was to prevent the wind from blowing sand onto the parking lot. You’re kidding! The sand on the parking lot was the same sand that was brought in by Super Storm Sandy, along with some pretty good size rocks. Even some of the cement benches shifted their position from the power of the water. Again I was told “oh don’t worry, we will take it down in the spring.”
Hmm.. That would mean approximately 25 days! Well by this last Thursday the high water, not the wind, took down much of the fence. Now we get to see broken snow fence draped along Long Beach and seaweed hanging off the rest.
Stop wasting our money and doing make work. Remove the fence, clear the parking lot and let us enjoy Long Beach year round.
The picture included was taken Saturday morning March 9, 2013. No storm. No wind. Just a very high tide